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Jan, 28 2015

Have you ever given blood? It’s been 30 years since I first gave blood - on my college campus. At the time, it sounded like a great idea – mainly because I heard I’d get a faster beer-drinking buzz with one less pint of blood in my system! 

Thankfully, that didn’t remain my reason for long. I quickly realized there were many other incentives.

I’m sharing four WAY better reasons to consider giving up a few pints of your own hemoglobin…

1. It’s efficient!

One of your pints can save the lives of three people. When you give blood, EVERY possible component is used – kind of like how my grandmother used every last bit of a turkey (turkey sandwiches, turkey casserole, turkey tetrazzini, and finally turkey soup)!

  • Whole blood is used for transfusions.
  • Red cells are used to treat accident/burn victims, to replace blood lost during surgery, to increase the blood's oxygen-carrying capacity, and to treat anemia that can't be medically corrected.
  • Platelets are used to treat people with bone marrow failure, leukemia/cancer, low platelet count, and more.
  • Plasma is used during cardiac surgery and to treat bleeding disorders or burn victims.

While it’s not tasty as those post-Thanksgiving meals, just know that your donation is making a big difference. 

2. It’s irreplaceable!

As high-tech and advanced as we are, we still can’t fabricate artificial blood (beyond Hollywood special effects, which I’ve heard is really just Hershey’s syrup). And blood cells have a limited shelf-life. Some treatments need blood that’s as fresh as five days, while others can use blood that’s up to six weeks old.

On any given day, 37 out of 100 Americans are healthy enough and qualified to donate blood.  But each year, only 10 out of 100 actually do it. Are you able to give? Good question…

  • Are you over 17 years old?
  • Do you weigh more than 110 pounds (uh, that’s most of us)?
  • Do you meet the eligibility requirements (click here for a list from the American Red Cross)?

Beyond that, you just need to drink lots of water, eat iron-rich foods, bring your ID, prep a list of meds and be sure you’re healthy (not hacking up a lung) on donation day!

3. It’s simple!

There are just five easy steps

1. Register 

2. Provide a health history & mini physical

3. Donate

4. Refresh (juice and cookies are an added bonus!)

5. Repeat in 2 months

Although the actual donating only takes about 10 minutes, plan for an hour for the full process (bring a good book & relax). They take a pint, which weighs a pound (we all appreciate this, right?). The volume is replaced within about 2 days, and the red blood cells are back up to full count in about 2 months. Therefore, you can give a pint every 2 months. 

Not sure how to get started? Click here for a list of American Red Cross donation centers in your area or just listen up – there’s always a blood drive going on somewhere!

4. It feels fantastic!

As selfish as it sounds, this still remains my main reason for giving blood! I feel generous, like a better citizen, heroic – I wear my Band-Aid like a badge of honor. Trust me, this is the #1 reason most everyone gives, too! 

Are you still sitting on the fence about whether to give? The three biggest excuses are: 

1. "I just never thought about it" 

2. “I’m scared” 

3. “I’m just too busy” 

This article dealt with the first two excuses. Get over the last one by thinking heroically and remembering you’ll save three lives by stepping out of your comfort zone! 

Now it’s your turn to tell your story. Have you donated blood? How many times? Did you have any memorable situations? Do you have questions? Feel free to post them in the comments below or email me at


Reid has a passion for helping brokers & employers strategize fresh approaches to benefit plans that contain costs and increase access to care - helping employers & employees control their healthcare dime, time, and peace of mind. He writes & speaks around the country and is the Co-Founder & CEO of freshbenies.

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Tanya Boyd
Tanya Boyd
President of Tanya Boyd & Associates

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